States across the country have been frantic in the past few weeks since the US Supreme court effectively legalized sports betting. Lethargic lawmakers have received a metaphorical crack of the whip to get their legislation in order, so that bets can be placed by an eager local gaming community.
New Jersey is feverishly trying to get their legal draft in order for a proposed bill to be passed on 7th June, under pressure from casino sand horse tracks; while Delaware claims to be ready to roll at any moment.
Meanwhile NJ State Senate President, Stephen Sweeney has threatened the major sports leagues for lost tax revenue and legal fees; this goes all the way back to 2011 when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was passed. The state is estimated to have incurred a whopping $8 million in legal fees to fight the legislation to date - and that’s before calculating the loss in tax revenue.
“There is potential for the state of New Jersey to recover some real funds” Sweeney is quoted as saying. Governor Phil Murphy and Craig Coughlin, however, have not made their position known on this matter. Euphemistically, Sweeney said further that “We hold our strongest hand when the legislature and the governor and the administration goes together” In agreement with Sweeney’s position is the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which seeks $100 million in lost revenue since 2014. They are in the process of lawsuit preparations.
Dennis Drazin, the operator of Monmouth Park believes that the leagues “acted in bad faith” benefitting Nevada and Las Vegas, in what he says, appears retrospectively to be a hypocritical move.
The sports leagues on their side, started lobbying the states to include an integrity fee in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling. This idea received mixed responses – with the exception of New Jersey where Sweeney replied to the request with a characteristically clear “Absolutely not” pointing out that they never received an integrity fee from Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, Roger Goodell the NFL commissioner, has supported federal sports betting legislation stating that both he and his predecessor’s highest concern has been protecting the integrity of their sport. Sweeney rubbished this claim saying that this position is merely about profiteering and not about integrity of the sport.
The matter of an integrity fee has been highly controversial with arguments that it’s unnecessary in an environment of legalized sports betting.
Given that it is only the second week since the ruling was made by the Supreme Court, we are sure to see some interesting developments in terms of proposed lawsuits, and in terms of forth coming legislation. Watch this space for updates!